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LG Gram 17 (2021) review

One of the lightest 17-inch laptops in the land

LG Gram 17 (2021) review
(Image: © Laptop Mag)

Our Verdict

The LG Gram 17 combines solid power, beautiful display and excellent endurance in a featherweight chassis.

For

  • Lightweight design
  • Large, high res display
  • Excellent battery life

Against

  • Weak speakers
  • Lid and keyboard flex

The LG Gram 17 (2021) is a big deal. Although it packs a large 17-inch display, it does so in a body that weighs as much as a 13-inch or 14-inch laptop. The LG Gram 17, for better or worse, is just as capable as those smaller devices, but gives you the added benefits of more screen real estate and a roomy keyboard and touchpad.

Unfortunately, the Gram 17 doesn't make it to the top of our best laptop page because of its weak speakers, midling performance and long-term durability concerns given the flex we noticed in the keyboard and lid. However, its strengths, like the vivid 17-inch high-res display, wide assortment of modern ports, and impressive battery life could be enough to sway certain consumers. 

LG Gram 17 (2021) price and configuration options 

The LG Gram 17 comes in one configuration that retails for $1,799. This config sports an Intel Core i7-1165G7 CPU with 16GB of RAM, a 1TB NVMe SSD and integrated Intel Xe graphics. The 17-inch display has a 2560 x 1600-pixel WQXGA resolution with a 16:10 aspect ratio. For connectivity, the Gram 17 has 802.11ax WiFi and Bluetooth 5.1. It also comes in two colors: black and gray. 

LG Gram 17 (2021) design

At first glance, the LG Gram 17 doesn’t seem very interesting. It's a large rectangular slab with simple lines and minimal flourishes. The lid is simple with only the Gram logo in the center. To make matters worse, the black magnesium alloy finish is prone to picking up fingerprint smudges. However, things get more compelling when you lift the slab and realize that it's much lighter than anticipated. For a brief moment, you feel like Thor lifting Mjölnir.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

The Gram 17 measures 14.9 x 10.2 x 0.7 inches and weighs 3 pounds. To put things in perspective, the Apple MacBook Pro 13 inches also weighs 3 pounds. More directly compatible devices are the Dell XPS 17 (14.7 x 9.8 x 0.8 inches, 5.5 pounds) and the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 15-inch (14 x 9 x 0.5 inches, 3.2 pounds).

This lightness is achieved thanks to the magnesium alloy, which doesn’t feel as metallic as aluminum laptops. Sadly, the featherweight material flexed when I applied pressure on the lid and keyboard deck. If you can overlook those faults, you'll appreciate some of the Gram 17’s other design elements, like the thin display bezels surrounding the massive screen.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Moving over to the keyboard deck, you have a full-size keyboard with a number pad to its right. The power button, located just above is home to an integrated fingerprint reader. The keyboard deck is completed by a huge touchpad and palm rest. 

Finally, at the bottom are rubber feet, vents and the itty-bitty speaker grills. The feet are there to lift the bottom off the tabletop and assist with cooling while angling the keyboard deck slightly for a more ergonomic typing angle.

Overall, the design doesn’t take any risks — what you see is what you get. There’s no gimmick or superfluous design elements — just a thin and ultra-lightweight laptop with a huge display; everything else takes a backseat in the quest to achieve that portability.

LG Gram 17 (2021) security and durability

The LG Gram 17 only has one security feature: a fingerprint reader integrated into the power button. The Windows Hello-compatible reader works quickly and accurately, making logging into your account or entering (without typing!) passwords in the Edge browser a snap. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

LG missed the opportunity to add a Windows Hello-compliant IR webcam, a security feature many consumers appreciate when it comes to safeguarding precious data. A physical shutter or an electronic kill switch is another thing on the wishlist. Thankfully, the Gram at least has a Kensington lock slot on the right.

Despite the flexing we noticed in the chassis, the Gram 17 has gone through MIL-STD-810G testing. The MIL-STD-810G certification involves testing in a variety of environments that replicate transport shock, vibration, low pressure, high-temperature, low-temperature, dust, and salt fog. This means you can carry the laptop on a long trip (remember those?) without having to worry about the usual beating your bag will take. 

LG Gram 17 (2021) ports

The LG Gram 17 has quite a few ports for such a lightweight system. On the left side, you’ve got two Thunderbolt 4 ports, a full HDMI port, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Along the right are a pair of USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A ports, a microSD card slot and a security lock slot. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

In case you need more ports, check out our best USB-C hubs and best laptop docking station pages. 

LG Gram 17 (2021) display

The main draw of the LG Gram 17 is its expansive 17-inch, 2560 x 1600-pixel WQXGA display. with a 16:10 aspect ratio. The screen has several things going for it. First, the display is in a sweet spot between 1080p, which may look low- res on such a large display, and 4K, which may be more taxing on the integrated graphics and battery. According to our sister site Tom’s Hardware, the 16:10 aspect ratio is a favorite among productivity users, allowing for more vertical space compared to a typical 16:9 screen. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

The screen looks great, and not just while rummaging through spreadsheets. I watched several episodes of Loki and everything looked great, in particular, the scenes on Lamentis at night in the canyons and in the city with all of the neon signage. In the dark night scenes in the canyon, it was easy to make out the craggy edges of the rocks and the varying degrees of lighting provided by the beautiful purple sky, which were punctuated by the occasional bright flash of a falling meteor. In the city scenes, the display did a great job of highlighting the glow of the neon signs, in particular, the hot pinks, teals and yellows felt like they could burst out of the screen.

One small nitpick is that some skin tones tended to have an orange tinge to them. Watching a 4K video of Peru, one of the artisans’ skin looked noticeably more orange than on other devices I watched the same scene on.

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LG Gram 17 (2021) review

LG Gram 17 (Image credit: Laptop Mag)
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LG Gram 17 (2021) review

Macbook Pro (Image credit: Laptop Mag)

During our testing, the Gram 17’s display covered a respectable 109.3% of the DCI-P3 color gamut. While not as high as the XPS 17 (121.6%), it was significantly more colorful than the Galaxy Book Pro 360 (85%) and the premium laptop category average of 82.9%. 

With regard to screen brightness, the LG Gram came short, measuring 382 nits compared to the premium laptop average of 388 nits. This was better than the Galaxy Book Pro at 264 nits but paled in comparison to the XPS 17’s 505 nits.

LG Gram 17 (2021) keyboard and touchpad

The Gram 17 has a comfortable island-style keyboard with a number pad for dedicated number crunchers. Each key gives good feedback when typing, so there is no mistaking a missed keystroke. During the 10fastfingers typing test, I hit my usual 65 words per minute after taking some time to get used to the layout. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

I do have a few gripes, however. The first of which is the number pad, which I found uncomfortable to use for prolonged use. Another complaint is the position of the touchpad relative to the keyboard, with the touchpad being centered to the palm rest and the keyboard being aligned to the left (due to the presence of the number pad). This makes it easy to accidentally activate the touchpad while typing.

The 5.1 x 3.3-inch touchpad is large and, much like the keyboard, is nice to use. It’s responsive when navigating the cursor and when scrolling or using Windows 10 gestures. Clicking the touchpad also feels good; it has the right amount of give and isn't too loud.  The accidental touches I mentioned above are exacerbated by the touchpad’s large size, and they caused me to place my wrists in an uncomfortable position to avoid accidentally interfacing with the surface. 

LG Gram 17 (2021) audio

One of the Gram 17’s major weaknesses are its speakers. The Gram has two five-watt speakers, but because the speakers are bottom-firing, your desk or table gets the best seat at the concern. The speakers don't get very loud even at max volume, making it difficult to hear dialogue on a TV show. Since many of the characters in Loki (especially Mobius) speak in a whisper, much of the dialogue was lost at all but the highest volume levels. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

The speakers are also disappointing for listening to music. Again, because of the bottom-firing orientation, volume is lacking to the point where the Gram couldn't fill our testing room. Volume levels aside, the quality of the sound is a mixed bag. I listened to “Intergalactic” by Beastie Boys and the vocals, drums and record scratches were clear and crisp even with the volume set to about 50%. The bass portions of the song were harder to hear, however. I then listened to the Beastie Boys’ “The Sounds of Science,” which has a sample of the clarinets from the Beatles’ “When I’m Sixty Four,” which involved lower-pitched notes. Sadly, the sample can’t be heard at all except at the height of the clarinet notes.

LG Gram 17 (2021) performance

The LG Gram 17 and its 2.8-GHz Intel Core i7-1165G7 CPU and 16GB RAM pack enough punch to handle most tasks students or mobile professionals could throw at it. It can power dozens of tabs in Google Chrome alongside your Microsoft Office apps like Excel, Word and PowerPoint

When we ran Geekbench 5.4, an overall productivity test, the Gram 17 scored 4,458, whereas the average for premium notebooks is 4,607. The Galaxy Book Pro 360 and its Intel Corei7-1165G7 scored a much more impressive 5,575.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

On the Handbrake video editing test, the Gram 17 was the slowest of the bunch, transcoding a 4K video to 1080p in 23 minutes 28 seconds. The XPS 17 (2.3GHz Intel Core i7-10875H) completed the task in 8:41 while the Galaxy Book Pro finished in 16:24. 

In our File Transfer speed test, in which the laptop transfers 25GB of multimedia data, the Gram 17, with its 1TB M.2 2280 SSD, was the slowest of the bunch, completing the transfer in 39 minutes. The XPS 17 (1TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD) completed the transfer in 34 minutes and the Galaxy Book Pro (1TB M.2 PCIe SSD) finished the transfer in 31 minutes.

LG Gram 17 (2021) graphics

With integrated Iris Xe graphics, demanding graphical tasks, like playing Sid Meier’s Civilization VI: Gathering Storm were less stellar. The Gram could only maintain 24 frames per second, which is below our 30-fps threshold. A gaming machine, this is not. Running the same game, the Galaxy Book Pro managed a better 27 fps using the same Intel Iris Xe graphics.

In the 3DMark Fire Strike benchmark, the Gram 17 managed a score of 4,733, which is slightly better than the premium laptop average of 4,728. The Galaxy Book Pro obtained a noticeably higher score of 5,575 using a similar processor and integrated graphics. The XPS 17, with its discrete Nvidia RTX 2060 Max-Q GPU, received a much higher 11,801. 

LG Gram 17 (2021) battery life

We’re in a golden era of laptop battery life, and even so, the Gram 17  stands out. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

I use a 2019 13-inch MacBook Pro as my work laptop, and while it can last me a whole workday, I can’t forget to charge it overnight for the next day. The LG Gram 17 lasted me a full nine hours of work, and when I forgot to charge it overnight, it still got through most of the next day.

The Laptop Mag battery test (continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness) reinforced my experience, with the Gram 17 achieving a whopping 14 hours on a charge. The average laptop in this category only lasts 10:58. The XPS 17 and Galaxy Book Pro 360 only achieved 9:05 and 13:34, respectively. 

LG Gram 17 (2021) heat

The Gram 17 stayed well within range of our 95-degree Fahrenheit comfort threshold. After running a fullscreen HD video for 15 minutes, we measured key spots on the laptop starting with the touchpad, which measured a cool 82 degrees. Meanwhile, the keyboard and bottom reached temperatures of 93 and 94 degrees, respectively. 

LG Gram 17 (2021) webcam

The LG Gram 17’s webcam is nothing to write home about. It provides decent performance in well-lit areas and worse performance in low-light environments. In low light environments, the image looked grainy and my skin tone was red. Fortunately, I didn’t see these issues when using the laptop outdoors under natural light or indoors under fluorescent lighting.

LG Gram 17 (2021) software and warranty

On the software front, the LG Gram 17 comes with a lot of preinstalled applications, each with varying degrees of usefulness. As far as homegrown apps go, LG packed the Update Center to update device drivers and firmware; LG Control Center to allow for some additional power management, audio and display settings; and LG Virtoo for sync your phone notifications, call and texts with the LG Gram.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

There are several trials for third-party apps included such as CyberLink’s PowerDVD, PowerDirector and PhotoDirector. The packaging and sticker on the palm rest also remind you that it comes with the Amazon Alexa app preinstalled. 

The LG Gram comes with a standard 1-year warranty covering parts and labor.

Bottom line

The LG Gram 17, like its 16-inch sibling, tries to act as a catch-all for a wide range of users, from the mobile professional to home or student consumers who may need a do-it-all device with a large display. In most aspects, the Gram 17 (2021) fits the bill, handling everyday tasks with ease. It has a wonderful selection of ports, a good display, and it can do most of the tasks 90% of customers require with aplomb. Best of all, it lasted 14 hours on our battery test.  

However, as a 17-inch laptop selling for $1,799, the Gram lacks power. If you need more oomph, the Samsung Galaxy Book 360 is a great choice. At $1,499, the laptop gives better performance for hundreds less. If you want to play games, you’ll want to invest in the $3,049 Dell XPS 17, which has a discrete GPU, powerful performance and a better display, among other benefits. But for those looking for a thin-and-light laptop with the largest possible display., the LG Gram 17 is the laptop for you.